Rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula could soon result in devastating war, China’s foreign minister warned Friday. With an American naval carrier staked out near the peninsula, and North Korea all but promising another nuclear test, China has urged both countries to stop provoking each other.
“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,” said Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, according the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. “Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but losing all round and no one could become a winner.”
President Donald Trump has so far taken a vaguely hard line. On Tuesday he tweeted, “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
An American attack on North Korea would have dire consequences for its neighbors. The country has already threatened to bomb American bases and the presidential Blue House in South Korea. And China — which shares a mutual defense treaty with North Korea — would also be forced to enter the fray. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested this week that the Chinese government would oppose any U.S.-imposed economic sanctions on North Korea, a country it trades with.
In a Wednesday phone call with Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged resolving any problems on the volatile peninsula by peaceful means, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That phone call might have come too late. North Korean vice foreign minister Han Song-ryol told the Associated Press Friday that Trump’s tweets had contributed to a “vicious circle,” and said that North Korea is ready if the United States wants to go to war.
Saturday marks the 105th birthday anniversary of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, an annual event traditionally celebrated with a show of military strength like a test launch or a detonation.